Saturday, July 24, 2010

IBM: A Different Intepretation.

This morning several items jostle for attention. The first and most exciting was a phone call, late yesterday afternoon. The caller, Don, said ‘seeing I had IBM I might be interested.’ Cross-purposes! IBM to me is an American computer company. I thought Don must be from SeniorNet ringing up about some computer matter. I confused the issue for I kept saying I had a Compaq computer and used Microsoft.

It took us a while to sort matters out. IBM is also an acronym for Inclusion Body Myositis, the disease from which I suffer. Don represented the small Kiwi group – 23 in number – who suffer from it. They had stumbled across Stoatspring and so established contact. I was pleased. It offers an opportunity to share experiences and support with fellow-sufferers, rare though they are. I look forward to that. The hard thing to explain to non-sufferers is that while the disease is painless the debilitating that accompanies it is most distressing.

This morning’s paper has an item about the wrench when the elderly give up driving their car. I can vouch for that. The day I accepted the disease’s progress meant I must give up driving was a milestone – a cruel day. It represented a major step away from independence. I had driven all my adult life – here and overseas. The assumption – wheels, for work, travel, leisure, for everything. That life-style was over. Even as I took the step I did not appreciate the enormity of it.

I used to think nothing of driving out for an evening meeting. I would like to have heard Pat White, Wairarapa poet and farmer, talking at the Poetry Society earlier this week. I’ve always been a fan of Pat’s work. His ‘Drought’ I consider one of the most moving accounts of the tribulations of a farmer’s life in the face of one of nature’s many assaults. Pat was speaking about his research into Peter Hooper the West Coast poet and novelist.

I’ve always considered Hooper’s poems rather neglected. The ‘Coast has always held a fascination for Cantabrians like me – wet compared to dry, forest compared to tussock, the romance of gold, coal, whitebait and glacier. Above all else there is the proximity of the mountains; Tasman’s description a ‘land uplifted high’ is apt. English-born Hooper grew up on the ‘Coast. He retired from being deputy principal of Westland High School in 1977 to be a full-time writer in a Walden-like retreat near Greymouth. His ‘Forest’ trilogy of futuristic novels was widely acclaimed but he published poems that mainly reflected his vision of a pantheistic natural world, very grounded in his beloved Coast. I’m pleased that Pat is rescuing him.

Which is all a long-winded way to say my health meant I didn’t hear Pat’s talk. He is beginning his own blog and an abridged summary of his talk is on it. I'm pleased. The marvels of the internet. It has made my disease more bearable. Unlike Dorothy our old cat who basically hibernates the winter away, I'm a restless soul who likes activity. My computer gives me access to a myriad of activities.

Finally, and this may seem small fry. This morning’s paper has an outcry front page about local body credit expenditure. I’ve written about this before. There is a difference between legitimate use and selfish use, whether at the political or the Council level. There is a tendency to mean-spiritness in these attacks that I find dis-spiriting. I certainly see nothing wrong for Council members and their partners going out for a Christmas meal together. They’ve earned it with their public service. It’s a sort of bonding-session, conflicts and vehemence forgotten in the cheerful celebration of the season.

Does the editor of the Dominion Post have a credit card? November, December, the city is full of private companies sharing a meal together. All year there are staff farewells and occasions with visitors from overseas. That is part and parcel of the job. Let’s not get too puritan and legalistic about these matters. Neither, for that matter should we be too lenient about their abuse. The middle way is always hard to steer.

PS I've added Pat White's blog 'Valdimar' to my blog list.

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